By Peter Selg, translated by Matthew Barton
Floris Books, 68p.
Book review by Willem Boonstoppel, Priest of The Christian Community in Aberdeen
What is a creed? Finding its roots in the Latin “credo,” meaning “I believe,” it is something we can see as a confirmation of the things we truly believe in. However, in The Christian Community the words “I believe” are not included in the Creed. If we read it on our own, at home however, we do not have to make this statement. In the service, it is only the priest who will speak the Creed out loud. Even more important, he or she is the only one required to end it with a clear “yea, so it is.” For the members, the Creed of The Christian Community is not meant as a confession of faith, but as a field of study, of meditation. The priest is the one who needs to lay a foundation for them to build on and is therefore required to be much closer to the personal statement of “I believe,” and to have worked with the creed as long as needed to be able to state this belief.
In this little book Peter Selg guides us through the different ages and stages of Christianity and the development of the creed therein, how it was seen as a preparation for adult baptism, or a defence against gnosis in the early days of the church. The comparison of four versions of the creed, from the Old Roman Creed to the modern one Rudolf Steiner gave to the first priests of the Christian Community is helpful. It shows us that we need to learn about the old, in order to begin to understand the new. Rudolf Steiner himself was not too forthcoming with his explanations about the words he added and changed. He gave the priests the task to keep on studying this new Creed in the future and find out for themselves what it could mean. As this is still an ongoing process and the definitive word about these matters has not yet been written, Peter Selg also doesn’t give us any definitive answers now. That might, for some readers, especially those who have been working with the creed for a longer time, be a bit of a disappointment. This book will not give them the clues they might have been hoping for. On the other hand, this clearly-written and comprehensive overview of the history of the creed through the ages and the importance of its renewal at the time of the foundation of The Christian Community — which itself is called “Movement for Religious Renewal” in its subtitle — will certainly help those who are new to the words of the Creed to deepen their interest and continue their studies. It could also open a door for those who have been seeking for a deepening of their spiritual life and a direction to guide their religious feelings. Selg states that the new form that the Creed has will help us to gain an understanding of what is available to all mankind: the healing power of the Christ, present in our life.
As he did in his book Rudolf Steiner and The Christian Community (recently published by Floris books), Peter Selg uses the opportunity to shed some light on the connection between the Anthroposophical Movement and The Christian Community, which could bring about a greater understanding of the relationship which the two movements had in the very beginning, and hopefully will have in days to come.
This is an interesting and helpful new addition to Selg’s series of introductory readers.